The “Very English Mystery Series”

A review of Elizabeth Edmondson’s Vintage Mystery trilogy:

A Man of Some Repute (2015)
A Question of Inheritance (2015)
A Youthful Indiscretion (2015) (novella)

Having just read a number of mysteries dealing with child abuse I felt I needed a palate cleanser.  A cozy, but not too fluffy.  A “nice” murder.  No kidnapping and torture, no lives hanging in the balance.  Intrigue and murder, yes.  Childhood sex abuse, no thanks.

Luckily I stumbled upon Elizabeth Edmondson’s charming novels.  She has a number of books but I was immediately attracted to her “Very English Mystery Series.”  The novels give a huge nod to Agatha Christie’s war time stories.  There is a missing Lord, there is a castle, there is a plucky heroine, a precocious sister, a manly hero suffering a war-time injury, spies and secrets and scandals galore.

The story begins when the skeleton of Lord Selchester is found buried beneath the flagstones of the castle’s Old Chapel.  The Lord had mysteriously disappeared from a house party seven years prior to the discovery of the skeleton.  Clearly murder, the local police open a fresh investigation but are happy to find an easy solution by pinning the murder on the long dead son of the Lord.  Aided by Hugo, new to Selchester and working a desk job in intelligence at the “Hall”, his spirited sister Georgia (orphaned in the war) and Freya, Lord Selchester’s niece, further investigations take place, unmasking the true motive and culprit.  “Agatha Christie frequently wrote about “old sins casting long shadows” and Edmondson takes this concept and runs with it.

The bulk of the first novel takes place in 1953, seven years after the Lord’s disappearance.  The second novel takes place a few months later.  Sadly, I can’t seem to find the third “novella” in anything but Kindle format so I can’t comment on that installment. But the two I read were lovely.  In some hands the telling would be trite.  But Edmondson manages to make her novels both an homage to the genre as well as being both witty and clever for the modern reader.

Sadly, Elizabeth Edmondson lost her battle with cancer and died in January 2016.  She wrote over 30 novels-historic, romance and mystery and fantasy.  If you are looking for a gentle murder mystery in the classic style, you will find it with her Very English Mystery series.

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